Renegades are a tribe who get shit done. We’re not about the easy road. We turn our pastimes into our full times. And we do it on our own terms. “Rule Breakers” is a series of renegade creatives who have strayed from the status quo, but not without hard work, self awareness, and some serious elbow grease. Chasing your passion is one thing, but wrangling it is an entirely different beast. These renegades are breaking rules and barriers, and redefining what it means to be successful by writing their own rules.
Amanda and I met what feels like FOREVER ago at the renowned Vaynermedia (Holler, GV!) In the days of yore, we were both spring chickens busting our buns as content producers. A few weeks ago, @thefeistyyogi started following me on Instagram. Since Yoga is a regular…ish practice of mine (I try to hit up my local Vinyasa studio 2 x a week) my interest piqued. When I realized it was Amanda’s new passion project, I knew we had to catch up!
Amanda describes herself as a feisty little Yogi keeping it real & bridging the gap between the super flexible & the super spiritual. When I first started Yoga, I remember feeling so out of place. Eventually, that uncomfortable, “I don’t know what to do with my hands…or legs…or face…basically my entire body is awkward…” feeling dissipated. Amanda’s account (which you should totally check out) consists of positive affirmations with a sneaky middle finger to unrealistic expectations.
The interview was feisty as promised. What I love most about Amanda is her unfiltered approach to life, which y’all know is my jam. Life is weird and messy, and we can’t keep walking around pretending we’re always getting it right. Because REAL TALK, when Amanda and I chatted for the interview, I was wearing a Backstreet’s Back t-shirt circa 2001. Some may actually consider this getting it right. The Jury’s still out.
Read on as we chat agency life burnout, nixing yoga pressure, start up life, and “choosing a different door”.
TRR: Catch me up! I want to hear all about what you’ve been up to since the days of Vaynermedia.
Amanda: SO, I’m super thankful for Vayner because it’s the company that got me out to the West Coast to begin with. From a career perspective, I wanted to take more control of my life, and leaving Vayner just came down to not being at an agency anymore. I was at a point in my life where I was so run down. I wasn’t living for myself. I was living for my career, and for what other people needed from me. I was constantly on email until 2:00 in the morning, and not sleeping.
TRR: I’m back to agency life now after taking a year off. Fortunately my current company really respects work/life balance. That might just be the difference between New York and elsewhere. When I lived in New York, it was awful at times. It was one of the reasons I left the city. I just needed a BREAK. How have you found it since leaving?
Amanda: It was bittersweet. I love Vayner as a company; I just didn’t want to be at an agency. Period. I was in Santa Monica, and I found a start up called Dog Vacay. It ended up not being a fit, but I loved the people there. I was approached with a social media manager opportunity for Zip Recruiter. It turned out to be the best move for me. It has unlimited vacation, everyone is so nice, and it’s normal work hours so I can teach Yoga in the morning and in the afternoon. I can even go to the gym at lunch and no one questions it.
TRR: Isn’t it funny how basic fundamental human needs become a godsend when you’re with the right company?
Amanda: YES! One of the things I love about my CEO is that he wants the top talent, and the challenge is that top talent is smart enough to understand the importance of work/life balance. He wants you to live life outside of work, and it motivates you to do better once you’re within the company walls.
TRR: So what sparked your idea for The Feisty Yogi?
Amanda: *Laughs* I was actually drunk in my bed and scrolling through Instagram. I was getting really pissed off because I kept seeing the same photo over and over and over again.
TRR: Insert Yoga pose. Insert super inspirational fluffy caption.
Amanda: Absolutely – Skinny tan girl on the beach doing a crazy pose, and an inspirational quote. And I don’t hate that! If that’s you, and you own that, it’s fine! It was the frequency that bothered me. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional it shuts out other people who just want to try Yoga. I remember my first Yoga class. I was fucking terrified! I didn’t go to studio until a year into practicing at gyms, because I just felt so intimidated by the real Yogis.
TRR: I’ve been practicing Yoga on and off for about 4 years, and I’m just now getting comfortable with the idea of balances and inversions. A lot of it was mental. It was looking around and seeing all of these people doing these crazy poses and I was like, “Cool. I’ll just be in Child’s Pose for the next 10 minutes.”
Amanda: But it’s true! And it’s terrifying. It’s a shame that it is so unintentionally intimidating because once you connect with the practice you realize it’s a mental practice first, the physical stuff is just an add on. I volunteer with a non-profit called the Yoga Body Image Coalition and their whole mission is to make Yoga accessible for all genders, races, and body types.
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body image issues are shitty. comparison is shitty. not feeling like you're "enough" is shitty. yoga is meant to undo all of that…every body is a "yoga body", everybody has their place on the mat, and everybody reserves the right to say "FUCK yeah, I'm awesome." Love yourself, mama. It wastes too much energy not to. (If you want a tee, visit the link in my bio) #thisiswhatayogilookslike #everybodyisayogabody #notsponsoredijustreallycareaboutthisshit
TRR: Where do you think the pressure to be a ”perfect Yogi”stems from?
Amanda: There’s a part of me that thinks it’s just human nature (outside of media pressure) to want to better ourselves when we’re around other people. But I also just think the media puts a lot of pressure on having to look or be a certain way. With our generation in general, it feels like you have to be the best. But you don’t! It’s not about getting your foot over your ear. It’s wonderful that you can do these poses, but it doesn’t mean anything. None of the physical things mean as much as we want them to. It really comes down to the mental connection and how you treat yourself in every pose.
TRR: How would you say your teaching practice is unique and specific to you, even as it relates to growing The Feisty Yogi account?
Amanda: In Santa Monica I’m a dime a dozen. I’m a blond girl teaching Yoga at a studio. Right now I’m just trying to make it authentic to my personality. While I’m certainly spiritual, and I’ve read all of the sacred texts from the traditional Yoga histories, I don’t believe that if you just meditate your day is going to instantly be better. Sometimes you just have a shitty day, and it’s okay. And it’s okay to say you’re coming to Yoga because you want to look better. But then you start to realize there are more layers to the practice. My goal is to attract the people like myself – maybe a little skeptical. I want to show you that it’s not just flexibility and hippie shit. It’s strength, confidence, and being able to process your emotions using breathing as a way to work through things physically and mentally.
TRR: What has the response been so far and how have you grown your following? It seems like people are really digging your vibe.
Amanda: I’m past 2,000 followers now. I think outside of my personality and the way I teach, I have a background in how to market brands and people, so The Feisty Yogi is a fun project in that sense because there are things to figure out. How to grow my Instagram community? How should I be boosting posts on Facebook? Who should I be targeting? I can pull in my knowledge from my full time job to enhance my side hustle.
TRR: As a woman with two blossoming careers, describe a typical day for you transitioning between your Yoga work and your work with start-ups.
Amanda: [Laughs] Oy. So I wake up in the morning, every day this week it’s been 5 am. I make my bulletproof coffee, walk the dog, and most of the time I’m teaching on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7am. Tuesdays and Thursdays I like to go to a class at 7am, or wake up, go to work at Zip Recruiter, rush home and eat something, and go to Yoga at night. But Tuesday-Saturday there has to be Yoga in my life. Monday I try to give myself off. Not a ton of going out or partying. I’ve been really good and have been going for a run at lunch. I hate cardio. I’m not a good runner, which is why I’m doing it. I get home around 6:30 and take my dog to the park. When I get home I’ll shove my face with dinner, and then read, write, or prepare a class and do a little bit of home practice. You can take a million classes, but unless you sit down and chart out the class, you walk in nervous.
TRR: Where do you see The Feisty Yogi going in the future? Do you see yourself starting a blog or a network community, or are you planning to keep it just on social for now.
Amanda: My goal right now, regardless whether I move onto a blog or if I just use this to supplement myself as a teacher, is authentic connections with people who are willing to commit mentally and physically. That’s my ultimate goal. Right now, Instagram is the window for everything.
TRR: I thought of you for this interview because similarly, I felt like there was this stigma that being a “badass” was wearing black with a lot of leather accents. Or that being successful was being a CEO by the time you’re 30. My goal was to explore what it means to have success on your own terms and not be a slave to milestones. “If I’m choosing a family, I have to have kids by the time I’m 30. If I’m choosing career, I have to sell my company.” I love meeting people who have completely abandoned these expectations. What comes to mind when you hear the word renegade?
Amanda: First of all I’m obsessed with your whole mission. I think it’s awesome, I really do. It’s also really appropriate for you, because you did a similar thing. You were like “Fuck it, I’m over the city, I want work life balance, and I want to be happy.” And that’s what being a Renegade is. It’s being okay going against the status quo and following the beat of your own drum.
TRR: Right! Forget the “rules” or basically anything that any “guru” has ever told you. You’re going to be fine. We’re all going to be fine. Nobody should feel pressured to live somebody else’s life. As long as you’re being true to yourself, and you’re not following someone else’s path, you’re going to be fine.
Amanda: It’s funny because growing up, in my town, you go to college, get a good job, succeed at that job, and that’s it. I was never really shown there were opportunities beyond that. You can get a great job, but there are other things that are satisfying beyond the 9 to 5. Even if Yoga is never a full-time thing for me, It’s a way to add another level of experience to what otherwise would just be the playbook. So maybe you don’t know what your calling is. Maybe calling is bullshit for most people. But find what makes you happy and see if you can expand that into other things
TRR: What is one “rule” you wish you love to break
Amanda: *Laughs* When you’re going somewhere and there are 6 sets of doors, and everyone only walks into that one door. And there’s a line, and people are like herding cows trying to get into that one door that’s open. Nobody ever thinks to open the other doors. It’s not something that’s a rule necessarily, but it’s something I always try to break. Stop following. Veer off for three feet and you’ll find something better.
TRR: I know you’re laughing because that rule seems very literal, but it’s super relevant to this interview. There are lots of doors. You don’t have to get stuck trying to fit into the same stupid door that everyone else is going through.
What is a rule you live by instead?
Amanda: Listen to yourself. I always struggle with what I should do and what I WANT to do. Historically, because I’m a social person, I will go out a ton and overcommit. The weeks when I don’t give myself me-time, I feel less productive. It’s so important. My perfect Sunday is waking up not hung-over, getting breakfast, going to Yoga, and spending the whole day outside. That doesn’t involve being around a million people, and it also involves going to bed at 9pm. And I’m ok with that
In the last year I’ve started to make space for me-time, and that’s a rule that now, I won’t break.